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Joe Benedict: ‘I Wanted to Find Something to Challenge Myself’

November 3, 2021 | Jeffrey Good

Joe Benedict: ‘I Wanted to Find Something to Challenge Myself’ image

Joe Benedict had big dreams: Go to college, major in aviation and build a career as a commercial airline pilot. But first, he knew, he had to turn the corner on his flagging high school career.

“Motivation was probably the number one thing,” he said. “I wanted to find something to challenge myself.”

But for Clark County Acceleration Academies, his journey to realize that goal — which had already taken him across the country — might have gone on much longer. Instead, he’s in college preparing for a career as a pilot.

Joe had begun at a Catholic high school in Las Vegas. When he fell short there, he and his parents did some research and settled on the co-ed New Mexico Military Institute. But, he acknowledges, “I got carried away in all the social activities.”

At his parents’ urging, Joe traveled around the country to visit family members and try and get his focus back. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he had to study remotely anyway, and the journey allowed him to soak in the advice of loving relatives.

“Just keep your mind on school,” his grandmother told him. “You can talk with your friends and all, but school should be number one.”

As he looked ahead to returning to Nevada, family friend Mike Barton — Chief College, Career and Equity Officer at the Clark County School District — suggested he look into Clark County Acceleration Academies.

“He told us the school was top-notch and good at getting kids on pace and on track,” Joe recalls.

He enrolled in hopes of making up for lost credits and moving successfully through his senior year, and he found Barton’s assessment to be spot-on. With the coaching he received from CCAA educators, he says, “I learned that I can actually stick to my goal and complete things on time.”

Graduation Candidate Advocate Chris Turner was particularly influential. Turner lent an understanding ear and also challenged Joe to improve his time management and study skills. He advise Joe to create a detailed list of goals for each day, allotting the time needed to reach them, and to holding himself accountable for the results.

“He was fantastic,” Joe said. “He kept me on track. I gave him a goal as to when I’d like to finish the whole year and he stayed by, giving me phone calls and reminding me of what I needed to do.”

The hard work paid off. Joe recently graduated and began his studies in aviation at Southern Utah University. He looks forward to taking the skills he learned at CCAA and putting them to work in the more independent environment of a university.

His advice for other young learners who stumble but want to reach their goals?

“Reset your mind and look at your new challenge as your new beginning,” he says. “Don’t worry about the past. Focus on the present and see yourself in the future.”

Joe Benedict, graduate from Clark County Acceleration Academies shows college campus to parents

Joe Benedict and his parents, Carmen and John, visit Southern Utah University, where he will study aviation.

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